Solskjaer a step further forward with midfield overhaul by signing van de Beek

Donny van de Beek is Manchester United’s first new arrival of the summer.

After a slow start to the window, United have landed a young but experienced midfielder of great quality who is only going to get better – at a reasonable price too.

There are question marks over how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will deploy the Dutchman, but that’s a good headache to have.

It is certainly healthier than the outlook was in midfield this time last year.

A look back to 2019 shows how United’s options in the centre of the park have been transformed.


What’s more, van de Beek’s arrival looks to signal the completion of a midfield overhaul Solskjaer’s been working on since his very first transfer window in charge.

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This time last year

Almost a year ago to the day, United played out an underwhelming 1-1 draw with Southampton at St Mary’s.

United’s midfield on the day? Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira and Daniel James. Marcus Rashford played on his own up front.

Ander Herrera’s departure was being keenly felt.

Fast-forward to the present day and Solskjaer’s options look far healthier ahead of the first game of 2020/21 and there won’t be many at Old Trafford longing for Herrera’s return now.

Nemanja Matic has been transformed and reintegrated, and will battle with McTominay and a rejuvenated Fred to anchor midfield.

Pogba will now battle with van de Beek for his place in a midfield transformed by Bruno Fernandes.

Rashford and Mason Greenwood are first picks on the flanks, with the likes of Mata and James reduced to squad players.

The quality of the options Solskjaer has at the heart of his team has increased significantly.


Solskjaer’s end goal

Solskjaer didn’t do much in his first transfer window at the club, which is understandable given he was still interim manager in January 2019.

His main move was to offload Marouane Fellaini and that felt significant at the time.

Fellaini had a good work ethic but he was never a Manchester United midfielder.

Solskjaer made it one of his first tasks to get rid of him and has since moved towards technical or energetic midfielders.

Van de Beek embodies that perfectly and his arrival rounds off a midfield revolution Solskjaer has been working on almost since day one.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.